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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Scene I


[A room in the castle]

King.And can you, by no drift of circumstance,Get from him why he puts on this confusion,Grating so harshly all his days of quietWith turbulent and dangerous lunacy?Ros.He does confess he feels himself distracted;But from what cause he will by no means speak.Guil.Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloofWhen we would bring him on to some confessionOf his true state.Queen.Did he receive you well?Ros.Most like a gentleman.Guil.But with much forcing of his disposition.Ros.Niggard of question; but, of our demands,Most free in his reply.Queen.Did you assay himTo any pastime?Ros.Madam, it so fell out, that certain playersWe o’er-raught on the way; of these we told him,And there did seem in him a kind of joyTo hear of it. They are about the court,And, as I think, they have already orderThis night to play before him.Pol.’Tis most true.And he beseech’d me to entreat your MajestiesTo hear and see the matter.King.With all my heart; and it doth much content meTo hear him so inclin’d.Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,And drive his purpose on to these delights.Ros.We shall, my lord.Exeunt [ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.]King.Sweet Gertrude, leave us too,For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,That he, as ’twere by accident, may hereAffront Ophelia.Her father and myself, lawful espials,Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,We may of their encounter frankly judge,And gather by him, as he is behaved,If ’t be the affliction of his love or noThat thus he suffers for.Queen.I shall obey you.And for your part, Ophelia, I do wishThat your good beauties be the happy causeOf Hamlet’s wildness. So shall I hope your virtuesWill bring him to his wonted way again,To both your honours.Oph.Madam, I wish it may.[Exit QUEEN.]Pol.Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please ye,We will bestow ourselves. [To OPHELIA.] Read on this book,That show of such an exercise may colourYour loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,—’Tis too much prov’d—that with devotion’s visageAnd pious action we do sugar o’erThe devil himself.King.O, ’tis true![Aside.]How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plast’ring art,Is not more ugly to the thing that helps itThan is my deed to my most painted word.O heavy burden!Pol.I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.Exeunt [KING and POLONIUS.]

Ham.To be, or not to be: that is the question.Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And by opposing end them. To die; to sleep;No more; and by a sleep to say we endThe heart-ache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to. ’Tis a consummationDevoutly to be wish’d. To die; to sleep;—To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay, there ’s the rub;For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,When we have shuffl’d off this mortal coil,Must give us pause. There’s the respectThat makes calamity of so long life.For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,The insolence of office and the spurnsThat patient merit of the unworthy takes,When he himself might his quietus makeWith a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,To grunt and sweat under a weary life,But that the dread of something after death,The undiscovered country from whose bournNo traveller returns, puzzles the willAnd makes us rather bear those ills we haveThan fly to others that we know not of?Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;And thus the native hue of resolutionIs sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,And enterprises of great pith and momentWith this regard their currents turn awry,And lose the name of action.—Soft you now!The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisonsBe all my sins rememb’redOph.Good my Lord,How does your honour for this many a day?Ham.I humbly thank you, well, well, well.Oph.My lord, I have remembrances of yoursThat I have longed long to re-deliver.I pray you, now receive them.Ham.No, no;I never gave you aught.Oph.My honour’d lord, I know right well you did,And, with them, words of so sweet breath compos’dAs made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,Take these again; for to the noble mindRich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.There, my lord.Ham.Ha ha! are you honest?Oph.My lord!Ham.Are you fair?Oph.What means your lordship?Ham.That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.Oph.Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?Ham.Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.Oph.Indeed, my lord you made me believe so.Ham.You should not have believ’d me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you not.Oph.I was the more deceived.Ham.Get thee to a nunnery; why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. Iam very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your father?Oph.At home, my lord.Ham.Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in ’s own house. Farewell!Oph.O, help him, you sweet heavens!Ham.If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be though as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go. Farewell! Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell!Oph.O heavenly powers, restore him!Ham.I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face and you make yourselves another. You jig, you amble, and you lisp and nick-name God’s creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no more on ’t; it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages. Those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.Exit.Oph.O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword;The expectancy and rose of the fair state,The glass of fashion and the mould of form,The observ’d of all observers, quite, quite down!And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,That suck’d the honey of his music vows,Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh;That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youthBlasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me,To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
Re-enter KING and POLONIUS

King.Love! his affections do not that way tend;Nor what he spake, though it lack’d form a little,Was not like madness. There’s something in his soulO’er which his melancholy sits on brood,And I do doubt the hatch and the discloseWill be some danger; which for to prevent,I have in quick determinationThus set it down: he shall with speed to EnglandFor the demand of our neglected tribute.Haply the seas and countries differentWith variable objects shall expelThis something-settled matter in his heart,Whereon his brains still beating puts him thusFrom fashion of himself. What think you on’t?Pol.It shall do well; but yet do I believeThe origin and commencement of this griefSprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia!You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;We heard it all. My lord, do as you please,But, if you hold it fit, after the playLet his queen mother all alone entreat himTo show his griefs. Let her be round with him,And I’ll be plac’d, so please you, in the earOf all their conference. If she find him not,To England send him, or confine him whereYour wisdom best shall think.King.It shall be so.Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.Exeunt.